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Identifying and Avoiding Dishonest Hosting Providers? 95

An anonymous reader asks: "Recently I have had the (dis)pleasure of dealing with the buyout and resulting problems problems of by WebHostPlus, Alphared (aka Orangefiber) being dishonest about backup facilities (no power backups and not multi-homed), and CalPop overselling bandwidth. What can we do to protect us from these companies, they all seem to be have web sites and be real companies, but we seem to get scammed by them. The dishonest ones look a lot like the honest ones. We can't afford the attorney's fees or to build a data-center, and that is why we pay the monthly fee to host a server, but the companies do not have what they claim to, nor do they care about the customers. We contacted two attorneys in the United States and they said that the companies didn't have any assets worth going after. What does Slashdot think of these problems and what can we do to avoid them?"
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Identifying and Avoiding Dishonest Hosting Providers?

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  • What can we do? I dunno, write-up and ask slashdot that names them all so that all the technical people in the world avoid them in the future?

    Of course, that'll only kill about 10% of their business. The rest of it comes from the clueless PHB set.
    • Instead of trying to identify the bad ones, it seems a lot more efficient to just identify the good ones. There are many ask slashdots about this and often in the low priced area they point to dreamhost. I took the advice and I love it to death with the two domains that I have on it.

      They offer great packages and they just keep getting better (without the price going up). If you sign up from this link [] or use the code 7BACKNOW, you will get $7 back which is basically your first month of:
      -20gb storage/1T

      • Re:Ask Slashdot? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Wog ( 58146 ) []

        Dreamhost is nice for a small site, but there is an unpublished CPU limitation that you can't go over, meaning that unless you're serving a few large static files, you're going to hit that cap before you ever hit their oversold promises. I use dreamhost, and they're OK, but you should know their limitations.

        By the way, if you DO decide to use dreamhost, use the MAX97 code instead... the parent's code gives them $90 and you $7. MAX97 takes the entire referral fee off your bill.
    • Even better, I think, would be to start a rating system simmilar to how online retailers are rated. Put the work of the collective web browsing, shared host-using public. In the same way that Wikipedia gathers the world's collective encyclopaedic knowledge, the stock market gathers the world's collective financial knowledge, science gathers the world's scientific knowledge, and open source software gathers collective software innovation, why not use the same principle here for gathering collective knowled
    • I'd suggest you went with

      I've been with them for years now... not the cheapest around but I've never had a problem with them and I know for a fact their infrastructure exists.

      Checkout their forums here

      I will admit to knowing the CEO reasonably well ... but that's only because when they were small it was only a 2 man outfit... nowadays they've spread into Australia (with news of that announced on yahoo) host clustered severs for premier league footbal
      • I highly recommend pair Netorks []. I've been using them for years and never had a problem. In fact they've been good to me. They definitely cost more than a "value" host, but have some key benefits. Uptime is excellent, bandwidth is never a problem, shared servers aren't overloaded and in fact locked down once they're full. They use open source sofware including Apache, MySQL, and FreeBSD. More importantly, they donate a portion of their business' profits back into the OSS foundations/companies whose products

        • I'll second that vote for Pair Networks. Been using them to host my company's website for a couple of years (based on a recommendation from Ask Slashdot, come to think of it).
          They were way less expensive than our previous provider and offered way more features/storage/bandwidth.
          Sure, they are a bit more than the "value" hosts, but isn't that point of the Ask Slashdot in the first place? After all, you get what you pay for.
  • You could google for them and see what comes up; I'm sure that the tech types that have had trouble with them have posted in forums and boards detailing their troubles!
    • You could google for them and see what comes up; I'm sure that the tech types that have had trouble with them have posted in forums and boards detailing their troubles!
      I found that Googling for the company's name + a keyword works well. company + reviews can get some good results but the most useful search query I know is company + sucks.
      • Re:Google? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arivanov ( 12034 )
        That used to be the case.

        The world has gotten to be too litiguous for this. 5 years ago people would not have had any doubts before posting that a company sucks.

        Nowdays people will think 10 times before doing that. For example, if I have some shitty experience with a company I usually post the exact description of a problem I run into with all relevant details including a mail trail where applicable. No emotions. No expletives. I have noticed that I am not the only one doing this lately. Noone wants to get
        • How many people have really been sued for this? Unless they are posting material that can be proven false and malicious, no web host would actually file papers in court. Were they sent a nasty legal letter? Probably so. But thats the risk you take when doing any kind of business anymore. Besides, web hosts don't usually have the margins to finance a protracted legal battle, so they would want it to end up in court even less than you would.

          So if you have a bad experience with a host, be sure to post about it
          • Read my post carefully.

            I will post, and I post if I have bad experience with any internet provider (hosting or other). I simply do not use expletives. The moment you get into the realm of "sucks", "idiots", "fucked up", etc you can get whacked for slander and have libel tucked along with it in most countries.

            On top of that in many countries (UK for example) the victim can get your website shutdown instantaneously with a simple letter. The reason is that UK (and other countries) libel and slander laws actual
    • Actually, Googling for web hosts makes the process of shopping around even more confusing. A lot of these outfits are either in cahoots or owned by the same person, and they set up websites that purport to offer impartial reviews of several web hosts but which are actually just shills. The way they network the sites together, they get a high pagerank without being obvious link farms.

      As far as I can tell, one of the best ways to find a decent hosting provider is to already be a member of a small online (or
      • The way they network the sites together, they get a high pagerank without being obvious link farms.

        If they put as much effort into making their hosting reliable as they do in scamming us...

        • Re:Google? (Score:1, Redundant)

          by ottothecow ( 600101 )
          Thats exactly what happened with me when I went with CI Host many years back. It was after they became a dirty host but not that long after so there were still a lot of good things floating around as well as their propaganda machine's creations. They had done a good job of surpressing all of the negatives (stuff like replacing the actually negative links spot on search engines with stuff that looked like forum postings of a guy saying these bad things he had heard about them but people replying with "nah,
        • My web host, pair Networks [], is listed on Netcraft [] as being fairly reliable, #14 out of all hosting providers as of the time I post this.

  • Well.. the first thing that comes to my mind is LOOK AT THE WEBSITE! All of these websites scream 'FRAUD' to me.
  • There are so many hosting providers out there, it really is a tough one. I think that if you're a member of various message boards then perhaps you could ask around on every one of them and see if any company's name comes up more than once or twice. Clearly you can't go by the claims made on a company's website, and those "hosting review" sites aren't any help, either, from what I've read.
  • Do your homework. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blanktek ( 177640 )
    Referrals are a good place to start. Find out more about the data center; don't just hit the buy button on the website. How about taking responsibility for your reliability? That means having a backup plan and being able to quickly move to another facility. Its just like anything else really. Do you homework.
    • Re:Do your homework. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Amouth ( 879122 )
      Yea.. I am not quite sure what this guys is trying to host (single site/server or more) but if he is talking about law peps I would assume it is something large.. so take this little bit I do

      before I host anything any where (now note I get hosting for 2-24u at a time) I ask for tour of the NOC.. I want to see where I will be at - this is where I look at what is around that - most people and NOC's label peoples servers very noticeably and you can see what other companies host there at that exact place..
  • Web hosting Talk (Score:5, Informative)

    by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:10PM (#15406536)
    Swing by [] and check them out before putting money down. A really solid community, where SOMEONE will have experiance with any given provider. And many of the members are more on the profesional side of thigns, not what another comment here refered to as "the clueless PHB set".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    And be sure to post a link to one of their hosted sites in the summary. If they can survive a good slashdotting you don't have to worry about bandwidth and server capacity.
  • Besides referrals, it would seem like the most definitive method of assuring a hosting company's honesty would be to choose one local to you and ask to tour their facilities. Assuming you have serious need of reliability and backups (folks with blogs can keep their own backups and it isn't a crisis if the host has some downtime), they'll probably be willing to accommodate you. If they're not, then they might just be writing checks their systems can't cash...
  • NearlyFreeSpeech (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I don't know what your exact requirements are, but [] is the best hosting provider I have ever stumbled across.

    They charge *only* what you use, and I havent had any problem with my webstie. Even when once they reported some sort of attack, nothing seemed particulary at issue in any of the sites they host.

    You can also host anything you want.
    Check them out.

    • I have an account at NFS, here is some info:

      * Their control panel is elegant and their their ideas are fresh.
      * They bring out new original features often (but lack some of the grandeur of Dreamhost for example)
      * You get 2 cents of balance when you signup (~20 MB of transfer) so you can see for yourself.
      * You can buy 'buckets' of bandwidth, you specify how much you want and when you want it to expire and get varying discounts on their (quite high by shared hosting standards) bandwidth rate.
      * Responses from s
  • You can't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pcgamez ( 40751 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:25PM (#15406615)
    First off, you can not entirely avoid a dishonest host. Second, your vulnerability depends on the type of service you are looking for.

    If you want to be the safest with a dedicated server, order from one of the providers such as EV1 and TP. You are less likely to be screwed. The downside to this is higher cost and less personalized service. The large companies have their problems, but them disappearing generally is not one of them.

    No matter what, there is a good chance you will get screwed. It is simply the nature of the industry. There are thousands upon thousands of hosts out there. Before purchasing service, check for comments on the company at WHT ( That will give you an idea of the hosts popularity (based on the number of complaints) and the level of service (based on the types of complaints). Most threads relating to companies are negative (a happy customer has no reason to post). More importantly, take a look at what you are getting. If the host is offering unlimited bandwidth or disk space, stay away. Every host out there counts on you using only a fraction of the resources allocated to you. If you are paying $20 month, do not expect to host a website getting thousands of visitors per day. Simply put, you get what you pay for.

    More important than anything else, keep backups. If you don't have a backup from the previous 48 hours, it is your own fault.
  • So someone is looking for hosting. Go to Google. Find lots of hosting sites. Some featured advertisers, some just search results. In among all of the results, find sites that let the public review hosting providers.

    You look over a few providers, pick some to look into in more detail, google for reviews, see they're all mostly good, and settle on one. Then you find _another_ site, where all the reviews for a hosting provider you picked are completely the opposite of everything else you've researched on

  • by Sierran ( 155611 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:40PM (#15406698)
    Step one: Know what you need. 'Reliable' doesn't mean anything. *How* reliable? To what level? What is an acceptable risk level for the facility your data will be in, or must your data be multihomed? If the latter, failover or clustered? Etc. Make sure that the company can tell you how it will meet all these requirements, in writing, to you and your lawyer's satisfaction before signing a contract.

    Step two: Referrals. Who else do they host? Check uptimes. Talk to their other customers. If they won't give you references, or if they can't give you companies you've either heard of or can verify have existed and are independent, walk.

    Step three: Read the contract. Better yet, have your lawyers read the contract. Anything fuzzy? Push them on it. If they waffle at all, or look like they're trying to get you to sign terms they might give way on if you push (not the price, the *terms*) DANGER. Established hosting companies should have their risks well set out and know what it will cost them to assume whatever level of risk - at worst, they should simply change pricing if you try to reassign risk, or simply tell you they don't offer that service level.

    Step four: GO LOOK AT THE FACILITY. No excuse for that. If your business is going to depend on this facility, you need to see it. No trusting web photos. This is your place of business and your physical plant. If your business depends on it being available, or worse yet on it being something that you describe to *your* customers, it's your responsibility to eyeball it. If you don't know what you're looking for (and if you're a business type, there's no shame in that) then find a technical person to eyeball it with you and pay them for their time.

    Step five: If you're concerned about their available bandwidth, ask to see bandwidth reports. Ask for peers who can verify their connectivity. When you visit a facility, ask to see the external switching facilities and rough-count circuits if you have to. If you're still concerned, then tell them you want legal guarantees (with penalties) in the contract for available bandwidth - they shouldn't bat an eye at that, since the more bandwidth you (verifiably) use, the more they should be able to bill you, probably. If they balk at potential penalties for short bandwidth, there's likely a problem. Typically, they themselves will offer tight bandwidth monitoring just so they can bill you for those bits.

    Step six, and final for me: HAVE A BACKUP PLAN. Things can and will go wrong. The best hosting provider out there might suffer incredibly bad luck and multilevel catastrophe. EVERY admin will have horror stories of 'the two things that would never go wrong together' going wrong. My favorite is a switching center in downtown Boston having *both* of its redundant data pipes being taken out by construction on the same day by the Big Dig, on opposite sides of the building. This might mean having a small backup system in another center on the smae provider. It might mean having a staging system in a home office that can be brought live on limited bandwidth. I don't know, that's *your* problem. It might just mean having a really good PR checklist. But HAVE A PLAN.

    Sure, if you're not dependent on an uptime number, these steps may not be necessary. But if, as the question seems to imply, your success or failure will be tightly coupled to the reliability of your hosting provider, then there's no substitution for Doing The Work.
  • WHP (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cigamit ( 200871 )
    For the most, it will be hard to avoid, especially when another company aquires your former host. I ran into this recently when WHP (yep, the same company in the OP) bought out Netbunch. It went from a crown jewel of a hosting company into a nightmare almost overnight.

    Blotched migrations (why keep the nice shiny fast servers, when we can move you to our own slow oversold ones?), horrible support (tickets unanswered for weeks or closed without reply), constant downtimes (usually 2-6 hours / day for weeks o
  • having a single point of data but i have had good results from

    1 linux server (i think its RedHat)
    2 direct ftp/http access to the server
    3 unlimited subdomains/email/sql dbs
    4 fast service (i had to do a bit of a reset and they moved my stuff to a new server/reset my cp password and did a package upgrade all in the matter of 5? hours

    not that i have anything big on site but THE SITE DOES NOT GO DOWN and if they dink with the servers you get a set of emails (weeks before, week before, during , j
  • Two ways:

    1. Hack a server or two and have a poke around the network yourself to see what they have.

    2. Assume the worst when talking to them. If you say with full and complete confidence that you know they're lying, they'll admit it (if they are).
  • If at all possible, go visit. Then ask them to physically show you all the things they promised.

    One place I looked at promised backup power. Then when I asked to see it, they explained that they only had the fittings and a contract for a backup generator that would be delivered in a couple of hours. Given that they are in San Francisco, that's a stupid plan, my-nurse-only-lets-me-use-a-spoon stupid; in an earthquake, their provider wouldn't have enough generators and probably wouldn't be able to deliver th
  • been hosting with them for about 4 years now.

    And yes, they now do linux...
  • Because over time you'll see what the good bosses buy and what the lazy bosses buy.

    Eventually, when you start your own business, you'll have a good bead drawn on what works.

  • A complicated testing strategy involves contacting the city council of the host site's residence. Ask them to turn off the power to the city for 5 minutes and see what stays up.

    Hey it sounds hard to pull off, but it beats simulating an earthquake or hurricane.
  • First of all, don't go with 'flashy' hosts that try to woo you with their whiz-bang web design unless it's one of the big, well-known hosts. By this, I mean look at their website design. Does it look like a template? The sort that involve stock art pictures of people. If so, stay away.

    Second, are the prices absurdly low, or are the figures absurdly high for the price? If so, stay away. (I would also imagine that you want to go for neither the lowest or the highest price you can find.)

    Third, you probably d

    • First of all, don't go with 'flashy' hosts that try to woo you with their whiz-bang web design unless it's one of the big, well-known hosts. By this, I mean look at their website design. Does it look like a template? The sort that involve stock art pictures of people. If so, stay away.

      You know.. I actually never thought of that but it's totally true. My web host's site had no CSS when I joined and the tables were all borked so bad I had to call them. $60/year for a gig of space and 3 gigs of bandwidth and m
  • All the companies I've worked for have either used a large/dominant Telecom or a well established, large customer base ISP. You won't get the cheapest deals in the world (far from it), but they do have the infrastructure to provide for your needs. Especially if you are using them for business critical systems.
  • by sgent ( 874402 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:53PM (#15407367)
    usually found in accounting, marketing, or similar (although often not in purchasing).

    Somewhere in there, you will have a credit analyst. Make friends with this person. They will have access to Dun & Bradstreet reports, paydex scores, and a host of other information about the hosting provider. They are the best people in most companies to research other companies -- because that's what they do for a living.

    In a smaller company, it might make the most sense to speak to the department head/CFO, because you don't want their normal sales analysis, but rather a dependability analysis (similar, uses many of the same things, but not automated).

    If you have questions, ask for CPA certified financials -- or at least a letter of attestation from a CPA firm that says they own/lease the multiple facilities, lines, etc. and that the company and pricipals are financially sound.

  • Go local (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:58PM (#15407389)
    You'll want to be able to apply legal pressure if possible and you won't want some weird law in another country to trip you up. As an example, the company I work for is not based in the USA and has worked on some oil exploration data orininally gathered by the USSR in Iran. Obviously getting that back to the clients via an ftp site in Texas (one of the best economic options) would be a bad idea in case some loonie decided it was in his nations intrest to show it to a lot of people - most likely eventually including competitors of our client because spooks would need an expert opinion. Other countries have other laws designed to stop money laundering or have some effect on terrorism (or use that as an excuse) which could have unexpected consequences and hit you will collatoral damage - as well as the obvious theives which are hard to get if they are in another country.
  • by WoTG ( 610710 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:53AM (#15407598) Homepage Journal
    Especially at the low end, you have to do a bit of searching on sites like SitePoint forums or WebHostingTalk. Keep in mind, almost every large web host will get a bad review now and then; however, as long as there doesn't seem to be a large number of complaints, you're off to a good start. Unfortunately, with hosting, it is possible to offer pretty decent basic hosting packages at very low prices. If the host is good everything is automated, hardware is cheap (for everyone), and bandwidth at a datacenter is cheap. So it's not safe to assume that you get what you pay for.

    The best thing to do IMHO, is to get a personal reference from either a comparable website to yours or a friend who actually uses the product. For instance, when I was looking at VPS's about two years ago, it was very reassuring to find out that Damn Small Linux was hosted with the provider that I had short-listed (and eventually chose).
  • by scronline ( 829910 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @01:52AM (#15407782) Homepage
    We are a small ISP/hosting/consulting firm and just because we're small doesn't mean we can't/don't offer quite a few of "extras" like generator power multi-homed and plentiful backup space. Just because a company is small doesn't mean they can't provide. But at the same time you can't take their word for it either. Find out where their facilities are and ask for a tour. Sometimes a tour might not be possible due to security restrictions on facilities, but that doesn't make it any less likely that they can't provide. For example we are in a building that's shared by about 30 other companies. While I could allow you access to our areas, I couldn't get you into the rest.

    Doing your homework is always best. The internet is a wonderful tool and when used properly the answers to all your questions are out there. I say this often, and it holds true in just about everything. Cost is always a concern noone wants to spend more than they have to, but if someone is selling you an entire cabinet for $400/mth power included, I would question where they are making their money. That's not to say that you should willingly pay $2000 for a single cabinet, but cost and quality are usually related to each other.

    Referrals are probably one of the best ways to go. Because we are small and are forced to compete with the big guys we have to cut corners. While I refuse to cut corners where it matters, I have to shave on the "extras" that aren't necessary for operations. For example, instead of spending $100k on advertising a year, we buy equipment. Instead of buying $2k desks and $8k conference tables, we I think you get the idea. Since we spend very little money on advertising our growth comes specifically from word of mouth. There are plenty of good providers out there just like us that operate the same way.
  • You should: 1) Check with local LUG members and find few good hosting services. 2) Check what google/other people has to saying about them. 3) If required check edgar database. (for their financial position) 4) Check SLA. Now a days all hosting service provider offers a months trial, if not then atleast try them out for a month before moving your website/business with them.
  • [] good place to start researching. For me, Pair has always done me good.
  • Hi,

    I have been using [] as my provider for about 3 years.

    They are a very large company, originally from Europe. In Germany they are the largest hosting provider. What they did when they entered the US market 3 years ago was what brought me to them:
    Any other company would have spent the allocated marketing millions for buying ad space and all that stuff. They gave away their best (shared) hosting product for free for 3 years, no strings attached - no ads (on your site), no need to stay with the

    • Possibly I have to correct one thing I said. Not sure anymore if they host in the US or in Europe only, since I juts found their nice Flash presentaton of their data center is the same on both their .de and their .com sites...
      • ... and one more thing came to my mind:

        From everything I know about them they're a "mass market company", i.e. they are great and cheap as long as their standard offerings suit your needs. I would not expect great individual service from such a firm. So far they are exactly what *I* need - something cheap and a standard offering, I've no special requests. If I did I would probably look for someone else where I could expect more individual attention, as 1&1 is set up I don't expect this from them, it's m
    • Any other company would have spent the allocated marketing millions for buying ad space

      Honestly, I've seen more 1and1 advertisements than any other hosting company, except maybe godaddy. They regularly take out 6 page spreads in PCWorld, as well as other tech magazines.

      That said, I use their 5 dollar/month package, and I haven't ever had any real problems with their service. Some of their administrative stuff can get a bit wacky now and again, but that's about it. Then again, I'm a fairly lite user.
      • Honestly, I've seen more 1and1 advertisements than any other hosting company, except maybe godaddy. They regularly take out 6 page spreads in PCWorld, as well as other tech magazines.

        I was talking about their start in the US market only, not about ongoing operations now. Of course they'd switch to "normal" marketing at some point. However, I think most companies that START something new (a new market, new offereing in existing market, anything) would do that with a big ad campaign rather than relying on giv
    • I used them a few years back for a personal website. Hosting was fine. I decided a year or so later that it was a waste of money. Cancellation was a total farce. Ended up paying for an extra year as the 'fill out 8 page web form, to get printable page to post or fax, emails ignored, telephone calls ignored' strategy they have effectively delayed things for longer than the time I had until the next contract. Auto opt-in for staying with them, so I got a bill regardless.

      As far as I am concerned, any company w
      • You should be paying for things online with single-use credit card numbers. Not because most online merchants are dishonest, but because most online merchants store your credit info and the folks who hack the merchants' systems are dishonest. They also come in handy for situations like your own, when a merchant tries to rebill you without your authorization.

        Single-use numbers are available for Citibank and MBNA cards, but there are probably others. I would suggest using them.

  • There's a few things you can do:

    • Traceroutes. try to trace the route to your prospective hosting provider from as many worldwide locations as you can. is your friend. Look at what carriers they go over, and if those are any good.
    • Someone else mentioned it before, but I'll mention it again because it was a very good tip: [] ... Many hosters roam those forums and they're making offers there that you don't normally see. That's where I got my server with 10 mbit flat
  • If you aren't familiar with the DirectNIC Hurricane Katrina saga, google "directnic katrina" and read a few of those stories, and check out the back pages of "" and see if you think they're your kind of people.
  • I work for a regional hosting provider and a pretty decent percentage of our business comes from within 100 miles of our location. We probably have one or two potential clients dropping by per week to talk to our tech staff and see what we have to offer. Are we more than $12.95 a month for hosting? You bet we are. Do we provide better service? You bet we do.

    You can come take a look at my big honkin UPS system, my generator backup, and I'll be happy to sit you down and walk you through our multihomed, m
  • Find a local webhost. Ask to tour their datacenter -- verify for yourself that they are what they claim to be. And for Pete's sake, remember my first rule of technology: You get what you pay for.

    If you're paying $5/mo. for webhosting, do you really think you're getting top-notch service??
    • If you're paying $5/mo. for webhosting, do you really think you're getting top-notch service??
      True. Though, "if you're paying $500/mo. for webhosting, do you really think you're getting top-notch service??" is also a valid question.

      My suggestion: get a solid, reputable provider such as Rackspace, EV1, Peer1, thePlanet, etc., and one or several cheap hosting providers as backup in case of disaster. Served me well several times.

      • by asc4 ( 413110 )
        True. Though, "if you're paying $500/mo. for webhosting, do you really think you're getting top-notch service??" is also a valid question.

        Yes, but if you're paying $500/mo. you have a much bigger bat to wield when you aren't happy with the service you're receiving. :-)

  • Since I haven't seen it yet, I'll put a shoutout to [].
    I really enjoy their service, and the price is definitly right, kind of pay as you go.
  • Find a provider who's local to you, ask to tour their data center, and make your decision from there. If they're local they're probably part of the Local Business Council and you can check up with them there too. Also small providers will provide you with better support and won't dump you if you become "unprofitable" like the cheap mass hosters will. They likely will charge more than a low cost hoster, but you get what you pay for.
  • You must, no matter what, ask before buying... Ask everything you can think of and even if that means that you need to ask for their plans should they sell their company - do so. []

    That's a good site to use to find honest hosts and to show one how to dig through the mess to find one that's not listed. I think you'll find that the information there is still pretty current and worth reading.

    Full disclosure: KGIII

  • The industry is full of "kiddie hosts," who resell part of a dedicated server or whatnot. Some might actually be decent, but I think a nifty little trick is to try to find a phone number for the place, and call them. They can have a great-looking website, but if the person that picks up is bewildered as to who you are, it's probably not a good pick.
  • Most of the services you mention have bad reviews. These are all cheaper services too. Sometimes you get what you pay for. I have hosted many sites over the years and I've found that even the "reputable" companies can sometimes have problems. My solution was to do one of two things. Host locally (so if there is a problem I can drive over and talk to someone face-to-face) or with someone I know (I'm currently hosting all of my sites with, which is ran by SlashChick [].)

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.